Channel 4 Dispatches featuring medical devices

Published date : 17 May 2011
Article date : 17 May 2011

The UK Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Monday 16 May took on the issue of failing medical devices, with a predictable blend of facts, opinion and patient stories. The programme covered the ASR hip resurfacing, a Medtronic implantable pacemaker/defibrillator and a cochlear implant manufactured by Advanced Bionics, but it was the ASR hip which received the most coverage. The programme makers interviewed Hartlepool surgeons who had implanted the device and were consequently the first to notice early failures. The relationships between surgeons and device companies in the United States in particular came under scrutiny. The main thesis of the programme was that medical devices should be better regulated, need better clinical evidence before coming to market, and that the present arrangements by which devices can be licensed because they are substantially similar to others needs an overhaul – this is a theme that the BMJ had developed late last year.

Which Medical Device (@whichmeddevice) took part in the accompanying Twitter debate (@C4Dispatches, #Dispatches, #HipOp) along with patients, journalists and a fair number of lawyers. Some patients were concerned about upcoming joint replacement operations and some were actively promoting the devices they had in-situ (notably the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing). We were happy to point twitterers to the content on our website, including the product descriptions of a range of hip resurfacings. We were pleased to see the point was made that clinicians and patients need access to the best objective information about devices.

UK users can view the documentary until Monday June 6th via Channel 4's 4oD service.

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